What Does “Open and Obvious” Mean in a Slip and Fall Case?

What Does “Open and Obvious” Mean in a Slip and Fall Case?

If you have suffered an injury in a slip and fall accident caused by a hazardous condition on someone else’s property, it may seem like a cut and dried case of premises liability. Further, it would seem that you would quickly be awarded damages or offered a settlement for your injuries. However, the property owner’s defense attorney will not see it that way, and he may attempt to use the “open and obvious” rule as a defense for his client.

What is the Open and Obvious Rule?

The “open and obvious” rule is an exception to premises liability law that can be used for the defense of a property owner to explain why he or she shouldn’t be held responsible for injuries that resulted from a fall.

Determining whether the open and obvious rule will apply to your case is a question that only an experienced premises liability attorney can answer. Premises liability law is often complicated and hiring a lawyer who is familiar with it is always in your best interest.

What is Considered “Open and Obvious” in the State of Florida?

Generally speaking, property owners have a responsibility to the people who visit their property to keep the area safe, without dangerous or hazardous conditions that could lead to injury. However, according to the open and obvious rule, they may not be liable for their visitors’ injuries when there is a clearly dangerous condition. In other words, visitors are expected to exercise discretion when they come across an obvious danger that is in plain sight.

Some examples of hazards that have been deemed by the courts to be open and obvious are:

Planters that are six feet in diameter

A sidewalk curb

A ladder on the selling floor of a store

Uneven concrete where there were no obstructions to the person’s view

Brick border around a tree

Raised joints where asphalt met concrete in a parking lot

How is the “Open and Obvious” Rule Treated in Florida?

There are numerous ways that the open and obvious rule can be used as a defense for property owners, but it doesn’t always end in their favor. To get a better understanding of how it works, here is an actual example from Florida courts.

In a case in which the plaintiff tripped over some exposed computer cables and fell, no obstacles were blocking her view of the cables and no previous incidents involving similar circumstances ever occurred. When you consider the facts, it is clearly apparent that the cables presented an obvious hazard for tripping.

Nonetheless, the court found that, although the cables qualified as an “open and obvious” condition and discharged the duty to warn, it did not discharge the property owner’s duty to maintain the property in a reasonably safe condition. In conclusion, the plaintiff still had a valid claim even though the danger was glaringly obvious.

Learn More about “Open and Obvious” from Premises Liability Lawyer, Joe Osborne

If you or a loved one has been injured in a slip and fall accident, the property owner may attempt to use the open and obvious rule as a defense. It is important that you contact Boca’s slip and fall accident attorney, Joe Osborne for help proving that the dangerous condition was not open and obvious. Contact his office today at (561) 293-2600 to have your case reviewed.